SuttaCentral

Seeking feedback on ebooks with Pali and English

So with big help from Venerables @sujato and @Jhanarato I have been able to wrangle some Pali and English files from the Bilara data. Here is my first attempt. Please take a look and give some feedback on what might be helpful to change.

SN-Pali-Eng_Sujato-2020.pdf (6.4 MB)
Samyutta Nikaya Pali-English_ L - Bhikkhu Sujato.epub (2.9 MB)
Kindle Version (6 MB)

And some new varieties:
English letter large, Pali letters small: epub | Kindle
English letters small, Pali letters large: epub | Kindle
English letter large, Pali letters small & italic: epub | Kindle
English letter large, Pali letters small & gray: epub | Kindle

So, the PDF is huge. Like mega huge. Over 4000 pages. Part of this is because lots of segments are very short, so they take up more space. Fonts could be smaller, margins smaller, spacing less, etc. But size really only matters for printing I guess.

The data in Bilara doesn’t seem to include headings for each samyutta (every sutta has “Samyutta Nikaya ##” at the top without there being a real heading), so I have to put those in by hand. In the epub/kindle file above I have them put in for the first vagga.

A big question for me is how to format the difference between Pali and English, especially in the ebook version. In Sri Lanka the tradition is that Pali is always in bold in a situation like this. On a Kindle, though, this feels kind of severe. So in the test version above I made the Pali sanserif and the English serif. Pali is a little bit smaller. It’s kind of ugly, and it breaks the epub user from being able to select their own font.

I’m also unsure about the spacing between the lines. In my mind there needs to be some space between each Pali/English pair. Then where a paragraph break would be there needs to be an even bigger gap. This leads to something very gappy looking. Ideas?

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Thank you ! It’s FANTASTIC ! :pray:

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That’s great. I guess I won’t be printing out 5000 pages though! :sweat_smile:

It would be convenient for the PDF to have a table of contents, with links, page numbers, and suitable page headings. I’m not sure how you generated the PDF, but that would be quite straightforward using LaTeX (or some other markup language).

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Table of contents, links and page numbers are on the way.

By page headings, do you mean the runners at the top like in the Wisdom publications that tell the chapter on each page? That is a little trickier. I am using LibreOffice. I believe Libre Office can do that, But at 4000 pages it is already pushing the limits. That would also take up space making the document even longer. But they are really convenient.

I don’t know LaTeX at all. But I have always wanted something between working in html and working in a word processor. As I understand there is still no gui/wysiwyg for LaTeX, eh?

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Yes, it would be normal to have the chapter headings, and sub headings on the page headers. In this case probably the Samyutta and the Vagga (if I’m remembering the terms correctly).

There are LaTeX front ends, but for this sort of thing it’s the fact that it is markup, not wysiwyg, that makes it so powerful. If I were doing this sort of thing I’d use some suitable language (Python for example) to do as much of the markup work as possible.

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I used to use Lyx back in the day, but there are others. Probably the best thing would be to write a script that does the reformating from bilara to LaTeX so that you can easily run new translations through the same pipe and get consistent, beautiful PDFs out… but that may be more coding than you’re looking to do right now.

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Congrats, this is a great step!

This will be on our 2-do list once we have the basic site working in Bilara. We’ll have to update the script that was based on the old data forms.

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Thanks! My process is inelegant to say the least. But I guess in this case it’s really only the final product that matters.

And some new varieties:
English letter large, Pali letters small: epub | Kindle
English letters small, Pali letters large: epub | Kindle
English letter large, Pali letters small & italic: epub | Kindle
English letter large, Pali letters small & gray: epub | Kindle

I realized that there are probabaly some readers who really want to be reading the Pali and only use the English for help. And that some readers may only be really interested in the English but would like to check the Pali time to time. So That’s when I came up with the idea of Pali with English and English with Pali. There are three varieties with English large and Pali small: One with Pali black, one with Pali italic, and one wiht Pali gray. Gray is my favorite because it is easy to skip over it, but it is there when you need it.

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, eh? Feedback is welcome. Thanks!

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Thanks! This is a great first step.

My primary use case for this personally would be to look up some Pāli when I read a translation elsewhere. E.g.: “Wait, this translation has ‘effort’ but is that really vayama? I thought it was viriya?”

So the ability to jump quickly to a given passage is foremost for my own usability. As an ebook you get search for free, so then it’s just a matter of the Tables of Contents. I would prefer to have a tree of Tables whereby I could go: “AN organized by PTS reference (click) volume 1 (click) page 87 (click)”

One minor nit: I like the English large, Pāli small and Italic BUT I think it’s typical in such a case for the original to be underneath the translation rather than on top of it.

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That would be nice, indeed. However, I have no idea how that could be achieved through an epub using the Bilara data. BTW, are people still using the PTS references? Ugg.

I’m not sure how we can decide what it typical. I always thought that the original comes first. It is, after all, original! I should say that in the Sinhala BJT edition, the Pali comes all on the left side leaf (verso) and the translation on the right (recto). The modern edition I am familiar with in Sri Lanka puts the Pali on top. Personally I’ve never liked how Sutta Central puts the English on top. There aren’t many Roman alphabet bilingual editions, so it’s hard to say what is normal.

Please remind me, are you using an e-ink device? It is seeming like I may be one of the few people still using e-ink.

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Indeed I’m not on e-ink. I’m using an iPhone 6s.

Please see my formatting proposal here: Offline feature development (status)

(If you like I can give you proper way of putting references, I struggle much with them, because Kindle and other reader handle them bit differently )

From what have you generated so far is the best is: English letter large, Pali letters small & italic, but only for somebody who want to read english and sometimes glance at Pali.

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